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Mahathir’s “turning the table” against the Prime Minister on the issue of corruption marks the nadir of Abdullah’s campaign against corruption in his three-year premiership
(Parliament, Monday) : In the CNN Talk Asia interview last night, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said corruption has now become a very big problem.
Although Mahathir’s CNN Talk Asia interview must have been pre-recorded before Mahathir’s mild heart attack on Thursday, it was a significant event as the former Prime Minister had “turned the table” against his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had made the campaign against corruption his personal trade mark and the major point of difference between the present and former premiership.
Mahathir’s “turning the table” on the issue of corruption therefore marks the nadir or lowest point of Abdullah’s campaign against corruption in his three-year premiership.
Something is very wrong about the Abdullah premiership that the former Prime Minister can now surface as a spokesman against the rampant corruption in the present administration – with many Malaysians agreeing with Mahathir although they have not forgotten that the former Prime Minister has still to fully account for the era of corruption, cronyism and nepotism which he had presided over for 22 years.
Abdullah made a very impressive speech as Umno President at last year’s Umno General Assembly, where he declared that “the Government’s war against corruption will not be successful if Umno itself has a culture of corruption”.
Unfortunately, like all his other sweet-sounding speeches and slogans, absolutely nothing has been done to eradicate or even address the “culture of corruption”, as illustrated by recent scandals involving Umno politicians.
What will Abdullah say or promise about the scourge of corruption in his Umno Presidential address at the Umno general assembly on Wednesday – more empty words or will he just skip the subject altogether, although corruption is now generally regarded as even worse than during the Mahathir premiership?
This sad state of affairs has been confirmed by Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2006 because of its five-ranking plunge for Malaysia from 39th last year to an unprecedented 44th position – or seven places below the 37th ranking in 2003 when Mahathir handed over the premiership to Abdullah.
One big issue all Malaysians and in fact the world will be watching at Abdullah’s third Umno General Assembly speech as Umno President is whether he is going to salvage his reputation as the Malaysian Prime Minister most committed in the war against corruption or whether he would allow Mahathir to steal his anti-corruption banner for which he had been given the biggest electoral mandate of over 91 percent parliamentary seats in the March 2004 general election.
Abdullah’s silence on the issue of corruption and his failure in the past three years to make any impact the war against corruption, in fact, going backwards as illustrated by the 44th placing for Malaysia in the TI CPI 2006, would tantamount to an ignominous end to Abdullah’s campaign against corruption.
There are three things Abdullah can and must do to urgently to salvage his anti-corruption campaign from losing all credibility before it is too late, viz::
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman